Mar 112009
 
Authors: Jessica Cline

Due to an increase in violence among Mexican drug cartels along the U.S. Mexican border, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel alert late last month and CSU’s Office of International Programs advised all students and staff to heed the warning over spring break.

And while Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez since January 2008, according to the U.S. Department of State Website,/situations are not dire enough to constitute a travel warning. A warning applies to unstable areas like the Democratic Republic of Congo in which warring and genocide have divided the country.

“This is not as serious as a ‘travel advisory’ or a ‘travel warning,’ but it is important enough that we felt we should advise CSU students about conditions in Mexico,” said Jim Cooney, Vice Provost for International Affairs, who clarified what the alert means for students.

The increased violence is due to issues with drug cartels along the U.S. and Mexican borders and most victims so far have been Mexican citizens, according to The U.S. Department of State. However, they caution that, “the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”

“U.S. citizens have had to use caution for many years in traveling to Mexico, but the situation in the border areas is more tense than it has been in years,” Cooney said.

Some Mexican cartels have used automatic weapons and grenades in army and police confrontations and firefights, according to the U.S. Department of State Website, are prominent in Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico. Some U.S. citizens have been trapped during these incidents.

The Mexican government is trying their best to improve the situation at hand. They have deployed troops around the country where needed but it could take a while for things to get back in order.

“The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, is investing major resources to make Mexico safer for tourists,” Cooney said./”He and his government realize what a blow it would be for their economy to have a sharp drop in American tourists, including students, traveling to Mexico.”

The U.S. Department of State suggests that U.S. citizens going to Mexico in the near future should only travel on main roads and only during daylight hours, travel with others, leave an itinerary with friends or family, keep a cell phone on them, and not display anything valuable.

Travel agent Dana Good from New Horizons Travel agrees students should use caution as always when traveling abroad.

“Don’t travel alone, don’t travel at night, stay in and around resorts and use common sense,” she said.

Students should know the laws of places they are traveling to as well, she added, regardless of the country.

Even with the travel alert though, Good said there are still lots of students wanting to travel to Mexico over Spring Break.

“At this time we still have the same amount of people wanting to go as usual,” Good said. “There are always lots and lots of students.”

This alert is very relevant right now leading up to Spring Break, but the alert it set through Aug. 20 so students need to keep this in mind as they make plans for the summer.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reach at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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